Association of Pharmacy
Technicians UK (APTUK)
The Professional Leadership Body for Pharmacy Technicians

10 minute clinic: sleep and insomnia

This handy 10-minute clinic is designed to act as a quick reference guide that will help you when advising customers suffering from insomnia and sleep problems. The flowchart below will lead you through the decision-making process to help you respond to customer queries

When to refer to the pharmacist

  • Anyone taking prescribed medication 
  • Anyone with any diagnosed diseases/conditions 
  • Anyone with possible depression 
  • Early morning waking 
  • Children under 16 years or the elderly 
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women 
  • If symptoms have been present for longer than a week 
  • Anyone who has suffered from insomnia before 
  • Anyone who has unsuccessfully tried a sleep remedy before. 

Self care tips

  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine for at least four to six hours before bedtime 
  • Avoid alcohol and heavy meals before bedtime 
  • Regular exercise can help, but shouldn’t be carried out within four hours of bedtime 
  • Establish a routine pattern of daytime wakefulness and night time sleepiness to train the body to sleep at night, e.g. avoid daytime naps, only go to bed when sleepy 
  • Ensure the bedroom environment encourages sleep, minimising noise, light and excessive heat at night 
  • Try having a warm bath or milky drink before bed every night
  • If anxiety is the problem, write worries down to help put them to one side until morning 
  • Try relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing 
  • Sleep aids should only be used for a few days at a time. 

Whenever you talk to any customer, remember WWHAM:

Who is it for?

What are the symptoms? 

How long have the symptoms been present? 

Action already taken? 

Medication? 

You don’t have to ask these questions in order, and a customer might give some of this information without you asking. 

As long as you get these into the conversation, you should be able to find out enough information to make a recommendation. The golden rule is: if in doubt, refer to the pharmacist. Don’t be embarrassed to ask for their advice as they have a lot of additional information about products and symptoms to hand.

Related articles

Pet hates: A look at common veterinary ailments

FRONTLINE – Tackling Fleas and Ticks

Finding routes to fitness

More articles

HRT: Why the reluctance to prescribe?

APTUK Voice of the Member Survey

Updated Guidance for Pharmacy Owners Providing Services Online



This website is for healthcare professionals, people who work in pharmacy and pharmacy students. By clicking into any content, you confirm this describes you and that you agree to Association of Pharmacy Technicians UK (APTUK)'s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

We use essential, performance, functional and advertising cookies to give you a better web experience. Find out how to manage these cookies here. We also use Interest Based Advertising Cookies to display relevant advertisements on this and other websites based on your viewing behaviour. By clicking "Accept" you agree to the use of these Cookies and our Cookie Policy.